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The Story Behind Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” Appearance – It’s A Law Story

Okay, so President Obama’s appearance on the idiosyncratic web series “Between Two Ferns” shows what a good ol boy he really is, cracking wise with chaotic host Zach Galifianakis.

But behind the “Two Ferns” story lies another one.

The real story is that President Obama is trying to connect and to sell.  And when it comes to connecting with a hip, younger audience, “Between Two Ferns” fits the bill.

And when it comes to selling new law, that works too, it seems.  Because the Obama presidency is selling – trying to sell – the Affordable Care Act and that’s where both “Between Two Ferns” and its parent website “Funny or Die” are coming into play.

Obama has already hosted a White House meeting last year with the Funny or Die representatives, along with other media people to talk about selling his healthcare reforms.

He talks about the Affordable Care Act and how the challenges it faces needed to be communicated to a Funny or Die audience, among others.

Funny or Die producer Mike Farah told Mashable “the law works even better when young people sign up for it.”

The Daily Life reports that in the few days they had, the Between Two Ferns team put together an outline for the show and coordinated with Jarrett as well as Brad Jenkins, associate director in the office of public engagement, and the president’s speechwriters. Even so, Farah insists that they approached the episode in the same way they do with most celebrities.

“It was no different than any other video we do,” Farah says. He declined to say how much of the dialogue was scripted in advance and how much was done off the cuff. “I would say everyone is comfortable with what’s going to happen. No one wants to offend anyone, or be disrespectful to the president or any other guest… People are on the same page and there is time to play around.”

The Between Two Ferns video racked up one million views after just three hours and 25 minutes and topped three million views in just under six hours, making it the best start for a video in Funny or Die’s history, according to a rep for the company. Perhaps more importantly for the Obama administration, the video succeeded in driving traffic to Healthcare.gov.

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